While the rest of the world was Googling "impeachment," House Democrats should have been searching for something else: a logical reason to move forward with it. Instead, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), after months of keeping party radicals at bay, finally broke. It will be, most people believe, the decision that seals her party's 2020 fate. Between now and then, maybe Pelosi's party will figure out something the president is actually guilty of. Because right now, his only offense is being Donald Trump.
"I just can't imagine a universe in which Democrats are stupid enough to do that," Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said a few hours before Pelosi made the formal impeachment announcement. Like most Republicans, he doesn't agree with Pelosi much, but he still respects her political savvy. Surely, he mused, she's "too shrewd to allow things to get out of control." He was wrong. The Left actually does hate President Trump enough to roll the dice on a second term. Which, as Michael Goodwin argues, is exactly what this White House will get.
"Because of what [Pelosi] said and did -- if the House doesn't go all the way, it will be a political disaster. Either failing to take a vote on articles of impeachment or failing to get enough votes among her majority to pass any articles, would be seen as a political exoneration for Trump, likely leading to his re-election... Pelosi knew all that since January, when she became Speaker, which is why she kept resisting the impeachers. But her surrender proved again that her party can't quit 2016. Like generals fighting the last war, she and they are now committed to taking their sore-loser grievances to 2020 voters.
This morning, the White House called Pelosi's bluff -- releasing the transcript of Trump's supposedly incriminating phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Pelosi, of course, insisted it was a smoking gun -- a "betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections." The president must not have thought so, moving quickly to declassify the information so the public could read it. During their talk, Trump brought up the rumor that Joe Biden may have intervened in the prosecution of his son, Hunter, in Ukraine. He asked Zelensky to "look into" it. If that's a crime, Marc Thiessen argued in the Washington Post, then where's the outcry over Senate Democrats, who asked Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on Donald Trump in 2018?
The problem for Democrats isn't that this lacks allegation lacks teeth -- or facts -- it's that their obsession to destroy Trump is driving the entire party. Liberals are willing to do or say anything if it'll stop the president from accomplishing his agenda. When they finally do appeal to voters in 2020, it won't be on a record of House progress -- it will be on platform of blind hatred. And, after the embarrassment of the Robert Mueller probe -- a two-year, $32 million dollar witch hunt -- Pelosi will be making that pitch on even shakier ground. Americans were ready for liberals to move on then. Imagine how they feel now.
Well, thanks to the latest polls, we don't have to imagine. U.S. voters have been quite clear how fed up they are with the Democrats' vendetta. In July, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey showed just 21 percent of Americans supported impeachment hearings against Trump. Since then, Breitbart points out, not much has changed. In poll after poll, the message from voters is the same: Enough already. If you want to remove Donald Trump from office, do it the old-fashioned way: win an election.
Behind closed doors (and even outside them), a surprising number of Pelosi's members agree. Acknowledging that they could pay for this gamble with their seats, Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) voiced the fear on a lot of members' minds -- that they'd gone too far. Democrats from Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) to Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) are fuming about the House losing its focus. "If you're asking us to stay on message, give us a [expletive deleted] message to stay on," Slotkin fired back in the meeting about impeachment.
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are watching Pelosi's caucus implode with amazement. If this is their reelection strategy, many told reporters, good luck. "I think the public will feel it's more harassment," John Kennedy (R-La.) predicted. One after another they warned the Democrats had overreached. It's such a partisan exercise, others say, that the public has completely discounted the idea. They see it as a political attack, not a case of substance.
As for Donald Trump, he is as he has been the majority of his presidency: undeterred. "The Democrats have been talking about impeaching Donald Trump since before he was inaugurated," Steve Doocy said on "Fox and Friends." "And for no reason," the president tweeted back, "other than the great success we are having with the economy, the military, tax and regulation cuts, and so much more." The fact that this administration has been able to get so many things done in the midst of this three-year onslaught is remarkable. Just imagine what they could do without the distractions! If the Left continues down this foolhardy road, we may soon find out.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.